32 coral atolls and one raised limestone island sprawled across two million miles of the Central Pacific make up the nation of Kiribati. The average height above sea level is just six feet, with a shrinking freshwater supply to complicate matters even further. Residents experience a high poverty rate and the myriad problems that come with it, like shockingly high infant mortality, low education and limited economic power when it comes to relocating or advocating for other solutions. 100,000 residents struggle to survive on these shrinking islands, wondering how long their island home will continue to exist, and where they will go from here.
Migration with dignity to neighboring Australia may be the best option for many as Kiribati slips beneath the waves.
18% of the daily energy needs of the United States are supported by this key Louisiana port. It might not be home to a native population with a long-established history, but it does highlight the national security ramifications of climate change and vanishing ground, because the area around the port slowly disappears under rising seas, it’s less able to function. And that’s not good for keeping up a steady supply of oil products to ensure stable prices and supplies.
The government is adapting to the risks of increased flooding with a variety of approaches including raised roadways and berms in an attempt to keep Port Fourchon operational, but the site bears close watching as an example of a locale where climate change and daily business directly clash.
Russian researchers in the Arctic had an unpleasant surprise this year when the ice floe they were using as a research station started breaking up under them. Despite a long history of safely using ice floes for this very purpose, the Russian government had finally met its match with climate change, and entered a race against time to dispatch icebreakers to rescue the researchers and recover as much equipment as possible. The rapid melting rate of Arctic sea ice may make this kind of research station obsolete — and, of course, it’s those very same melting ice floes that are contributing to the rising sea levels around the globe.
Photo credit: Jim Trodel
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